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Aft(er) a shock!

Saturday, February 10, 2018
By Suresh Golani

Faulty water meters pinch pockets, test lab in limbo for eight years

The Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) spends astronomical sums running into crores of rupees each year to replace old pipelines, overhauling  existing network and to enhance water supply in the twin-city. However its metering and billing mechanism continues to remain outdated.

While the twin-city which has 34,194 residential and 2,770 commercial metered connections, it is still waiting for its full fledged lab to check the faulty meters. Hapless consumers are ending up with exorbitant bills due to average readings, the civic administration relies upon.

Even as bill amounts for the current year have mysteriously shot up by more than 20 per cent, an impending hike in water taxes in the upcoming budget will further lead to a steep hike from April this year.

Eight years after the proposal mooting MBMC’s own Water Meter Test Lab and cleared by the general body, the project is yet to take shape, exposing the unwilling attitude of civic officials in keeping a tab on the accountability of water supply.

While the faulty meters pump additional cash flow into the civic coffers, bills generated on an average consumption basis is burning holes into the pocket of the users.

“With augmentation of water supply to 175 MLD, the frequency has been reduced from  once in 45 to 50 hours to once in 24 to 30 hours which apparently leads to higher usage, thus the rise in bill amounts. We are already into the process of setting up a test lab in Mira Road which will end the faulty meter issue,” said Executive MBMC Engineer, Suresh Vakode.

With no mechanism available with the MBMC to repair or replace the faulty meters, users are forced to travel to Mumbai or Thane to get meters repaired with official test report needed to recommence regular billing on the basis of actual readings.

“The inflated bills raised on the basis of self-implied calculations under the garb of assessed bills is nothing but façade used by corrupt officials in the water supply wing to conceal a huge quantum of unaccounted water.” alleged former corporator, Om Prakash Garodia who has demanded a high level probe into the matter. 

Wonder why your water bills are high ?
After nearly a decade long gap, the MBMC had appointed an agency in 2014 to carry out a detailed audit of its water supply/distribution network and identify leakages/ thefts apart from weeding out other shortcomings in the system and take steps accordingly to reduce loses and map out the maximum utilisation of the water supply.

Ironically, the MBMC  is clueless about the findings and the end results of an audit report, exposing the half-hearted efforts of water supply department officials to plug loopholes in waters supply system. However, the administration has claimed that they are in a position to monitor the inflow, outflow and pressure in key points to keep proper account of the water received and supplied. It has been alleged that inflated bills raised on the basis of assessments for defective meters acts as a façade to conceal a huge quantum of unaccounted water.

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